Last weekend was a very challenging weekend for the family. Living in the North East presents its share of weather events. In my opinion, the season to avoid is winter; subzero temperatures, invisible ice, snowstorms, and spring flooding are a few of the hazards I have encountered. It always seems that I find myself shoveling snow, reminding myself that I only have to deal with this for about half a year. The season that I always welcome is Summer. I can skip the leaf change and the snow, give me 80˚ weather and sun. This summer has been a bit different. I haven’t enjoyed the season as much as I have in the past. I have had to deal with flooding a couple of times and more recently I encountered Hurricane Irene.
The family and I have spent a few nights this Winter and even more this Spring without power. Considering that we seem to lose power whenever a crow farts, I anticipated that we would lose power at the first wind gust of Irene. Soon I found myself preparing just like every other family. I had a backup plan as to where to go if we lost power. I purchased plenty of batteries and kept candles readily available. The bathtub was filled with water in case we needed it. I purchased non-perishable goods to wait out the weather. I figured out a backup plan to keep my iPhone charged so I could have an open way to communicate should I need it. Dallas and I brought in all the outdoor plants and sealed up the house. We called the grandparents to check in and make sure that everybody was all set for the incoming storm.
The evening of Irene’s arrival saw Dallas and I running around the house unplugging electronics and appliances. The house was “going dark”, aside from the porch light that I left on for Kelly. While completing my checklist at home, I felt terrible knowing that Kelly was going to be at work when the storm hit. I was watching the news as I saw businesses all around her announce that they were closing early. We decided to call her up to see if she was going to be coming home early, only to find out the opposite. Kelly was going to be required to stay later. It is not the best feeling in the world when a loved one is “required” to stay out during a storm that the state was shutting down in. How was she going to get home when the major roads were being closed? We went over the plan and said our good-nights.
I woke up to the sound of my screen door slamming against the house. I looked next to me and sighed with relief when I saw Kelly sleeping. Just past her I saw the outline of some frog pajamas and realized that Dallas had sneaked in after I had fallen asleep. I disconnected my respirator and went downstairs to try to fix the door. I opened up my front door to what looked like a scene from the movie “Poltergeist”. The trees were whipping with the wind, rain was coming down sideways, and there were things flying around the air that shouldn’t be airborne: like a sandbox. I secured the door, went back to the bedroom, and started checking updates through my phone. The storm was on us and causing destruction across the state.
After a few hours the family woke up. We headed downstairs and discovered that we were one of the fortunate households that still had power. We checked in with friends and family and hunkered down to wait out the storm. Since news is über-boring to a two-year old, it was not long before Dallas had us running around the house. We played “Zombie on the Stairs” (whomever is “bitten” turns into a Zombie and chases the others to “bite” them, aka tag but with awesome zombies instead), colored on the floor, we read stories together, and even gave each other “tattoos”.
Even though we had encountered such a powerful storm, we made it through as a family. We entertained ourselves by reading books and making up silly games. Kelly and I worked hard to project a calm and collected house to Dallas. We worked hard to inspire her imagination. To Dallas the couch became a castle, the hallway became a dungeon, and she had two playmates that made the day go by so much faster. It made me appreciate the things that my parents did when I was a kid to combat “cabin fever”. In hindsight I am glad that I was prepared, I would much rather be ready for something and not have to use it. It makes me wonder if these were the same concerns that my parents had when I was a child. Sometimes it takes a natural disaster to remind you about what is important in your life and put things in perspective.